I da'd back in August, because I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't take the constant pressure of being under the microscope. And I just plain couldn't continue living what I didn't believe anymore. I don't have any family members in, and I don't regret leaving. I felt I had to make an official break.
After a rough start, life has been pretty great since. I'm now making up for lost time, learning and growing and pursuing all of those "worldly" things which were so forbidden when I was JW, but which were so much an inborn part of my personality that I became a shell living without them (art, literature, science, higher education,etc.). I absolutely cherish the freedom to question things, to examine them from different angles and points of view. But as it dawns on me on how much I've missed out on, it also makes me grieve for a friend that I had to leave behind.
She and I were kindred spirits of a sort. We could finish each other's sentences, we were so in tune. It was she who taught me to question in the first place. She was my strength when I was an unquestioning robot. She told it like it was, whether I wanted to hear it or not. It was she who started me on my own road to freedom.
Now that I am here, I miss not having her to share all this wonder with. I kind of feel like a part of my body has been cut off.
I now understand how horribly effective and damaging the practice of shunning is. I understand the mental blocks that cult conditioning creates in the minds of those who are still trapped in the ideology.
I would talk to her in a New York minute when we cross paths, but she is very hesitant when we meet-very confused (she initiated a conversation, but abruptly cut it off).The person who was my strength now seems very afraid when we meet unexpectedly, yet wistful at the same time. I don't know what to do. I don't want to push her so hard that all that "apostate" conditioning clicks her into auto mode.So I let her do the talking, answer only at her prompt, and try to let her know that I still care very much.
It's interesting to see how former congregation members react when you leave without an "official" reason, and your life doesn't indicate any major changes from the way you were when you were "one of them." When they assess the situation for themselves, and realize that the party line of the lying, immoral, spiritually bankrupt portrayal of the apostate doesn't seem to be manifesting itself in the life of those who leave. It shows in their eyes when you meet-the sadness, the confusion.
So sometimes I cry for her, my friend, for all we can't share right now. But I know I can't go back.
I'm starting to reach out to others, to make new friends. But it's hard. I don't feel comfortable with talking about my jw past yet, even though it shaped who I am and the things I have done.Telling people about it would explain a lot, yet it's hard to put into words exactly what being an ex cult member means, when I am only just beginning to understand the ramifications myself.
Do any of you have any advice? How did/do you tell others, or do you refrain? Many people in our area know I was jw, and most know I've left. They've been nothing but kind, and that's helped.But still, I'm afraid to open up. The last time I did, I was believing jw, and it was used against me. I'm afraid that I don't know to what degree to be candid. I'm afraid of what people will think. And in this respect, I realize I'm not yet free of the cult mindset.
And [email protected]#$%n it, I miss my friend!!!!